Guest Blog post by Lee W. Frederiksen

Knowledgeable in-house experts are the backbone of any firm, but few of those experts are what we call Visible Experts, professionals who are very well known within the industry. Why does that matter? New research from the Hinge Research Institute clearly demonstrates that high-visibility experts deliver key benefits to employers—helping firms become more recognized, attract more leads, and grow faster. In this post we’ll look at why this happens, and just what firms stand to gain by developing Visible Experts in their ranks.

The Halo Effect

It’s apparent that recognition will help a professional on an individual level—after all, the more well known you are, the more likely that clients will seek you out and want to work with you. But how does personal recognition help an expert’s firm?

To understand why Visible Experts matter to a firm, we have to travel back in time to 1915, when a researcher named Edward Thorndike conducted a social study about how people make judgments. In his study, Thorndike discovered that if a person had one strong positive trait, such as being attractive, it would positively influence people into believing they also had other good qualities, such as a strong work ethic. He called this phenomenon the halo effect.

Flash forward to the present day, and Thorndike’s halo effect explains how a buyer who already perceives a Visible Expert in a positive light is likely to believe that the expert’s firm is wonderful, too. Bottom line? As an expert builds their own recognition, their firm benefits, too.

The Benefits

The research demonstrated that firms reap multiple benefits from their Visible Experts, including growth, brand building, lead generation, and higher fees. Let’s explore these findings:

1.  Growth

66In the study, we found that 66% of all Visible Experts exert a major positive influence on their firms in terms of business development and growth. When we dug into this category, we found that Visible Experts bolstered firms’ businesses across a number of areas, with the biggest increases occurring in firm growth, lead generation, and audience reach.

2.  Brand Building

62The research showed that 62% of Visible Experts greatly contribute to building their firms’ brands. Visible Experts help their firms establish trust and market leadership, expand their reputations, and increase overall brand recognition. We also saw firms enjoying increased brand awareness simply from being associated with a Visible Expert’s name.  The figure below shows the breakdown.

Visible Experts'3.  Generating Leads

Visible Experts were found to be lead-generating machines, significantly boosting the number of inbound leads for their firms. The research showed Visible Experts generating leads for their firms in a variety of ways:

  •  By writing and disseminating blog posts, articles, whitepapers, and books
  • Through public speaking, including keynotes, webinars, podcasts, interviews, and more
  • Through networking and relationship building
  • Through search engine marketing and optimization practices
  • By focusing their efforts on target markets

Further, having a Visible Experts on staff not only permitted firms to be more selective when screening leads, but also made it easier to convert leads that were already in the pipeline.

4.  Higher Fees

 The research revealed that buyers want Visible Experts, and they are willing to pay more to work with them—a lot more. In fact, buyers will pay 200% over baseline to hire Visible Experts at the lowest level of visibility, and 13X over baseline to work with Visible Experts at the highest level of visibility, as demonstrated in the chart below.

Relative Hourly Rates

Grow a Visible Expert

The research clearly showed that Visible Experts bring many advantages to their firms. But it revealed another, even bigger, surprise: high-level Visible Experts from all different industries and backgrounds had performed remarkably similar actions to get to the top. Although their careers, ages, and personal stories were wide ranging, their journeys followed a very similar trajectory.

After analyzing the data, we determined that there were seven critical components that all professionals must have in order to become a Visible Expert, a recipe for success that almost any expert could follow. This news was too good to keep to ourselves—so we wrote a book. In The Visible Expert: How to create industry stars, and why every professional services firm should care, we lay out both the data and the recipe for success, teaching both firms and individuals how to grow a Visible Expert.

Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value.